Theatre Review: Madagascar – The Musical, Empire Theatre, Liverpool

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Format: Musical
Genre: Comedy
Date: February 5 2019
Location: Empire Theatre, Liverpool

The 2005 hit animation movie Madagascar has finally made its way to the stage of Liverpool’s Empire Theatre, with a plethora of colourful creatures, catchy songs and vibrant backdrop covering the greenery of the globe.

The plot of this Dreamworks production is focused on a number of prevalent creatures, namely Marty the zebra (Antoine Murray-Straughan), Alex the lion (Matt Terry), Melman the giraffe (Jamie Lee-Morgan) and Gloria the hippopotamus (Timmika Ramsay), along with a few penguin friends. They’re stationed within Central Park Zoo, and it’s Marty’s tenth birthday, but he wonders aloud whether he’s made the most of his life up to that point, especially since he believes that he’s halfway into his mortal state. Despite pleas of concern by his pals, Marty looks to escape and explore the outside world, and his fellow creatures follow him up to a Subway station in NYC.

But they are caught, captured and ultimately sent away across the ocean, eventually ending up in Madagascar (the penguins go to Antarctica, but soon reunite with their old friends because of how cold it is there!). In their new home, the animals seem to be very much comfortable, but there are further challenges to be found between the gang, and there are questions as to whether they will return to their original base of Central Park Zoo, or whether they are happy to remain in Madagascar.

The costumes are very good, in particular Jamie Lee-Morgan as Melman the giraffe; he uses a stick to elevate the animal’s head at all times, which leads to some humorous moments. There are other amusing animals in the show, in particular Julien the lemur (Jo Parsons), who has a jovial spirit about him that defies his emperor-like control of the island. Crew members visibly control certain animals (such as the penguins, which are essentially puppets), but I felt this added to the wacky nature of the show, not least when you can clearly see the crew speaking the words of their allocated creatures. The backdrops were striking and authentic to the movie, and the use of props such as crates of varying sizes while the animals are being transported was another nice touch. The songs are easy to sing along to, with the main musical highlight being Julien’s crazy rendition of Move It, which had everybody laughing.

I was surprised that the show was pretty short at one hour and forty minutes (which included a twenty-minute interval), but it ensured that the story moved along quickly and that there were no dull moments. The streamlined approach also retained interest throughout, especially considering how many bizarre sights and sounds were used throughout its duration. Obviously, it is a show that is aimed at younger children, and it seemed like they had a really good time; it’s hard not to be invested in a show that has giraffes, lions and monkeys and almost every other zoo creature that you could think of.

It helps if you have seen the original film and its sequels, but even if you haven’t, Madagascar is a very enjoyable way to spend a night at the theatre, especially those with younger children. Families and kids alike will have a lot of fun with Madagascar.

Overall Rating: 8/10 – Very Good